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The Subversion of Images: Notes Illustrated with Nineteen Photographs by the Author

Paul Nouge

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Wakefield Press
Translated by:
Michael Kasper
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This classic surrealist photobook pioneered the imagery of the domestic uncanny

First edited and published by Marcel Marien in 1968 in a limited edition of 230 copies, half a year after Paul Noug 's death, The Subversion of Images is a miniature classic in both the photobook and surrealist canons. It collects Noug 's notes and photographs from 1929-30 to form a guidebook to the surrealist image. Noug here outlines his conception of the object and the surrealist approach to it, while also offering an accompaniment to the visual work of his colleague, Ren Magritte, whose paintings he sometimes titled. How might a tangle of string elicit terror? How might the suppression of an object move one to sentimentality? What is the effect of a pair of gloves on a loaf of sliced bread?

Noug 's accompanying photographs explore these notions, and feature a number of his Belgian surrealist colleagues. This translation is presented as a facsimile of the original edition, with an afterword by Xavier Canonne, director of the Mus e de la Photographie.

A biochemist by trade, Paul Noug (1895-1967) was a leading light of Belgian surrealism and its primary theorist, as well as a decisive influence on such Lettrists and Situationists as Guy Debord and Gil J. Wolman, who would take inspiration from his conception of plagiarism for what would come to be termed "d tournement." Noug steered the Brussels surrealist group toward a more rational approach to visual and verbal language that discarded the Parisian surrealists' proclivity for irrationality and occultism.